By Judith van Berkom –
“Music and art are closely integrated,” says Barbara Zuchowicz. With professional qualifications in both, Zuchowicz has recently focused her attention back to drawing – “the most intimate and delicate of visual media.”
Her late husband, Dom Zuchowicz, built over 350 musical instruments, mainly viols for private and public collections worldwide. They both had an interest in early music and worked as a team. She researched historical design for the period instruments he built, ran a concert series at All Saints Anglican Church in Westboro, and is the Director of the Ottawa Adult Music Camp. She has taught and performed on a viola da gamba built by her husband, as well as the baroque and modern cello.Her passion for music, however, is closely matched by a love of art.
“I lived my whole life with a pencil in my hand,” says Zuchowicz. “I’ve always been an observer of things.”
Her current work elevates common objects, such as jars of honey, teapots, a special tree, or the rooftops of a farm just over the crest of a hill. Zuchowicz spent months sitting in the barns at the Experimental Farm watching sheep – fascinated with their behaviour – and captured their sheer joy in shades of coloured pencil.
Sharing her house with a boarder who makes her own preserves, motivated Zuchowicz to capture the beauty of homemade preserves. No longer a necessary part of modern life, she views the making of preserves not as exclusively women’s work, but a way of keeping domestic culture alive. “It was homemade peach jam that kept our marriage together,” she explains. “My husband picked up the peaches in the Niagara region, and I made peach jam. It was done with love…Think of the generations who kept themselves alive for centuries by canning,” she adds.
The year after her husband’s death in 2011, Zuchowicz left for London, Ontario where she researched and wrote about the relationship between music and art and the relationship of women in the 18th century to music and art at the University of Western Ontario. She came home knowing she wanted to bring out the visual artist part of herself more fully. “My husband always encouraged my art,” she explains. “So to be part of this [year’s West End Studio] tour, to be welcomed into this group of fantastic artists, is incredible.”
Although a new artist to this year’s tour, Zuchowicz’s involvement goes back to 1994, to the earliest days of the studio tour. She had been meeting with a group of artists at St- Francois and the lease on the building was up. “We decided to hold a tour as a goodbye,” she says. The official West End Studio Tour opened in 1995, a year later.
Click here to read profiles of the other artists on the West End Studio Tour.